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Bakersfield, CA - March 10, 2020
by Stephen Justice


The 62nd annual Good Vibrations March Meet is in the books. It was foretold there would be weather related delays but thankfully those predictions didn't pan out and with the exception of a cool Saturday we had 4 days of racing in T-shirts. The fans, including a packed house on Saturday, were treated to some great runs, close racing and upsets. As it turns out, it was also the last drag race for what looks like a long time.

Pete Wittenberg in Nostalgia Top Fuel, Matt Bynum in Nostalgia Funny Car, and Ron Capps in Fuel Altered led the list of winners at the 62nd annual Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet, the kick-off of the 2020 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series season.

Pete Wittenberg dominated the Top Fuel class. The 2018 March Meet winner qualified No. 1 with a 5.607, 254.81 and never ran slower than 5.865 in eliminations. With the exception of Bryan Hall’s 263.72 for Top Speed, it was the “Pete Wittenberg Top Fuel Show”. In the final round against an upset-minded Tyler Hilton (No. 7 qualifier), Wittenberg ran down the quicker-leaving Hilton (.085 to .117) to claim his second March Meet victory with a run 0f 5.678, 254.49 to Tyler’s game 5.927, 229.20.

“It is pretty emotional,” Wittenberg said. “We’ve won this twice and I'm still beside myself that we won it once. It is unbelievable. It has been a long haul from the first one and this one. We’ve overcome a lot of stuff.”

 

This years 16-car open Funny Car field attracted 23 entries paced by Dan Horan Jr.’s track record-setting 5.547, 264.49 while qualifying his ’69 Camaro No. 1, but his domination ended right there. In round one of eliminations Saturday, Horan Jr. saw his chances of winning a Wally evaporate in the warm Bakersfield sun when No. 16 qualifier Matt Melendez zapped him with a 5.709, 245.27 to Dan’s off-pace 6.349, 242.32. Matt made it all the way to the final round before succumbing to Cecil Matthews’ jockey, Matt Bynum. Bynum was the class of the field in eliminations, posting the quickest winning run in all four rounds of eliminations. After qualifying No. 3 at 5.575, 261.98, Bynum never ran slower than a 5.621 and averaged 5.602 for all four rounds of eliminations.

“It is pretty cool,” Bynum said. “I still can’t believe it. We came here and we just ran really well all week.”

 

Those fabulous fuel altereds have been a fan favorite since the time of the Standard 1320 record days (as far back as 1959), and their popularity has continued to grow. Why? It is the wow factor: open-wheel, short wheelbase, tire blazing, flame-throwing coupes, sedans, and roadsters on a 6.60 index.

Sixteen entrants fought over the eight spots paced by James Generalao’s 6.037. There is simply nothing ever predictable about what might occur when fuel altered line up to duke it out in eliminations. Number one qualifier Generalao Jr. found himself paired up with NHRA Funny Car superstar Ron Capps driving Roxie Hertzig’s “Good News” Fiat ’33 coupe in round one of eliminations. Capps hit James with a much better reaction at the start (.085 to .115) and simply out-drove him to the finish line. The veteran Capps did not stop there, posting the quickest time of eliminations (6.123) against the always dangerous Mark Whynaught in round two, and polished off a red-lighting Robert Winefsky in the final round to realize a life-long dream of winning a March Meet event.

 

All class winners are covered herein. I hope you take the time, while so many have the time, to enjoy the over 1300 photos captured during the last drag race held before the "virus". So without further ado, here is our coverage.

 

Photos by: Bob Brown, Dan Kaplan, Ken Hughes and Don Ewald

 

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Q1 - FRIDAY

 

The first pair out for Q1 was Bobby Cottrell in the Bardahl sponsored Camaro of Austin & O'Brien and Dan Horan in his 28 day wonder Mustang that was badly damaged at the NHRA Winternationals and ready to race today. It was a Herculean effort by many from coast to coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horan fired a 5.889, 218.97 opening salvo while Cottrell had issues early on and shut off.

 

 

 

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Pair two featured Tony Jurado in his "Capital Punishment" '69 Camaro and Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it looks like Morris is out of the game, the fact is that Jurado left a day early. Billy carded a nice 5.652 at 249.49.

 

 

 

 

 

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Next up was Geoff Monise driving the new "Quarter Pounder" 1970 Camaro. In the other lane was Matt Bynum, who works for Team Kalitta in the Matthew's Motorsports "Nitro Nick" '70 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bynum carded a stout 5.575 at 261.98.   Monise made a good baseline pass with a 5.838 at 247.16.

 

 

 

 

 

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Then it was Rian Konno in the Kazanjian Lemon & Konno Mustang and Cory Lee in the "Pedaler" '79 Challenger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the tree Lee experienced a major engine malfuctioion and banged the blower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Konno carded a solid 5.720 at 245.72.

 

 

 

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Next pair through the waterbox was Matt Melendez in the seat of his "Cacklin' Critter" '70 Challenger and Jeff Gregory in the "Madness" Pontiac TransAm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melendez smoked the tires early on and shut off.

 

 

Gregory clicked it early as well to a 6.462 at 170.02.

 

 

 

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The hits just keep on commin', it was Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro and Steve Easton in Bob Godfrey's "Burnin' Money" Cuda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boychuk carded a baseline 5.846 at 246.48.

 

 

 

 

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With things running smoothly, next up was Brad Thompson from right up Hwy. 99 in Visalia in his “Jail Break” ‘70 Camaro and Ryan Hodgson down from Edmonton AB in his Dad's Pacemaker '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to tire smoke and shake both cars were DOA before the 300' mark.

 

 

 

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Next up were Justin Taylor in the Taylor Family "Evil Wicked Mean & Nasty" '73 Mustang along side Mike Peck driving the "Quote Wizard" Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor stopped the clocks with a solid 5.763 at 234.25. Peck coasted through.

 

 

 

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With three pairs left, it was Jeff Arend driving the "California Hustler" '78 Firebird and rookie Don Knoblauch in his new, first class "Atomic Punk" Vega.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Arend clocked a solid 5.747 at 250.69. Knoblauch followed far behind with a 7.261 at 143.20.

 

 

 

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Tim Nemeth in his "Iceman" TramsAM and James Day in the unique, badass and very orange "Speed Sport" '78 Dodge Omni.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nemeth got the better time with a 5.828 at 237.59 as Day was right there with a 5.905 at 250.41.

 

 

 

 

 

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The final pair featured Jerry Espeseth in his "Atlas" '69 Camaro with its Rupert/Littlefield support. He was paired with Bill Windham driving his "Shakedown" '69 Camaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windam carded a 5.959 at 239.95 with Espeseth on his tail with a 5.981 at 255.39.

 

 

 

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Terry Jongewaard was out for some license runs in the Swearingen "Nitro Cowboy" entry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Page 1 - Intro & Funny Car Q1

Page 2 - Top Fuel Q1

Page 3 - Funny Car Q2

Page 4 - Top Fuel Q2

Page 5 - AA/FA & Nitro Pro Comp Q1

Page 6 - Funny Car Q3

Page 7 - Top Fuel & AA/FA Q3

Page 8 - Funny Car Round One

Page 9 - Top Fuel, AA/FA and Nitro ProComp - Round One

Page 10 - Funny Car & Top Fuel Round Two

Page 11 - Funny Car & AA/FA Semi-Finals

Page 12 - All Nitro Finals

Page 13 - Winners Circle - All Classes

Page 14 - Other Cars In Action

Page 15 - Loose Ends

 

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